Tierralismo Good Earth Film Tour
Contact: Alexandra Halkin, Director
The Americas Media Initiative (AMI) uses film to forge landmark cultural exchange programs between Cuban and U.S. citizens. Over the last three years, AMI has consistently done groundbreaking work in Cuba; organizing tours of independently produced U.S. films in the provinces, engaging with Cuban audiences, and generating significant media coverage on Cuban television, in the press and on the Internet. The films and tours have stimulated conversation and knowledge exchange about issues as diverse as Native American history, civil rights movement and New Orleans politics. In the U.S, AMI has facilitated six tours, bringing Cuban filmmakers to universities, museums and cultural centers across the U.S. In addition, AMI distributes DVDs of independently produced Cuban documentaries, animations and short fictions with Icarus Films, New York.
The Tierralismo Good Earth Film Tour will include screenings of the recently released documentary, Tierralismo: Stories from a Cooperative Farm. Part of the AMI Cuba catalogue, Tierralismo is about the history and practices of one of Cuba’s most successful urban farms, the Organoponico Vivero Alamar (Alamar Organic Cooperative). Tierralismo, introduces viewers to everyone from agronomists and senior management to workers who plant, plow, and propagate. What began as a necessity - farming without pesticides and chemical fertilizers - has become a source of pride to coop members. The film shows how they fertilize with compost and cow manure, raise their own insects for biological pest control, and have even created a fully biodegradable alternative to the plastic bag for use with seedlings. Tierralismo also covers non-farming aspects of the operation, such as human resources and accounting practices. In a land where financial resources are scarce and governmentally controlled, transparency and trust are paramount. Many of the coop's members have come from other fields - including a former
pathologist, a fisherman, and an oil-industry worker. More than half are seniors - including an 82-yearold who says when it comes to hoeing, he can outwork anyone in their twenties. This is a film not only about the food and the farm but the characters who make it happen. The filmmaker, Alejandro Ramirez, and one of the co-founders of the Organoponico, Isis Salcines, will accompany the tour, creating a dynamic forum to share knowledge and create learning opportunities on film and food security, and the people who are driving both movements in Cuba. Alexandra Halkin, Director of AMI will accompany the Cuban visitors on the tour. Not only will the tour provide an opportunity for a diverse U.S. audience to hear firsthand about experiences in urban agriculture from Cubans, but the Cuban visitors will be able to learn from academics, government representatives, and community activists engaged in building sustainable food systems in various locations throughout the United States.
By meeting with food activists in the Midwest and the Northeast, and farmers, activists and policy makers in Vermont, the Tierralismo Good Earth Film Tour aims to provide a critical link and foster meaningful learning among leaders of urban agriculture in Cuba with those in the U. S. In the context of Cuba’s move toward a more market-based economic model, the experiences that Ms. Salcines will see firsthand in the U.S.—innovative marketing strategies, cooperative producer and consumer structures, and trans-disciplinary research and education approaches—will provide new tools that can be adapted in a changing Cuba. U.S. citizens, food activists, farmers, professors and policymakers will learn from the Cuban experience, seeing and hearing firsthand the innovative techniques Cuban farmers have devised to produce healthy food under difficult circumstances and with scarce resources. The Tierralismo Good Earth Film Tour will be about sharing experiences and identifying potential collaborations among the multiple actors needed to ensure access to healthy food for all people.
Tierralismo Good Earth Film Tour Bio’s:
Isis Salcines graduated in 1995 from the Polytecnic Institute “Osvaldo Herrera” with a degree in Telephone Systems and Data. Upon graduation she began working as a long distance operator at the ETECSA (Government telephone company). In 1998, Ms. Salcines was laid off from her job at the ETECSA and began working at the Organoponico Vivero Alamar (Alamar Organic Cooperative). Starting in 2003 she helped design and launch a new food preservation project. In 2007 she enrolled in a
six-month course in agricultural studies and in 2008 she began to focus on the marketing and distribution of local organic produce to domestic and international markets. In 2012, she became the Projects Coordinator in the Projects and Investments Office at the Organoponico, and she continues her work in that role to this day. In 2013, Ms. Salcines received an advanced studies degree in
Agricultural Engineering. During her time at the cooperative, Ms. Salcines has participated in national and international forums such as TERRA MADRE in Italy (2008 and 2010), the first Urban Agriculture Summit (held in Canada in 2012), and in a series of workshops in Panama about environmental conflicts (2013).
Alejandro Ramírez is a Guatemalan photographer and film director who grew up and currently lives in Alamar, Cuba. He graduated from Facultad de Arte de los Medios de Comunicación Audiovisual de Instituto Superior de Arte, (The School for Audiovisual Communication at the Superior Arts Institute, ISA) in Havana, Cuba. As a photographer he has had 14 solo exhibitions and 10 group exhibitions, and he collaborates with several magazines and media outlets. He has participated in the production of various films and videos as a sound engineer, cameraman, assistant director and director of photography. As a director he has made many documentaries that have won national and international awards. He is a Film Professor at the ISA. Alexandra Halkin, Director, Americas Media Initiative, founded the Chiapas Media Project, an award winning bi-national organization that has trained over 200 indigenous men and women in video production in Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico. A Guggenheim Fellowship and Fulbright recipient, Alexandra has produced five documentary shorts in Mexico, many of them award winning and her work has been broadcast and screened at film and video festivals worldwide. In 2010, she founded the Americas Media Initiative (AMI) a non-profit organization that works with Cuban filmmakers living in Cuba. In March 2012, Ms. Halkin collaborated with the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film on a US documentary shorts program, Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias that traveled to five towns in Cuba. In February 2013, Ms. Halkin co-organized the New Cuban Shorts Program, part of the Documentary Fortnight Series at the MoMA. Most recently Alexandra completed the Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 3 tour with the PBS documentary series, POV and the Executive Producer, Simon Kilmurry.